Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Bruce Frohnen's introduction to Rommen's "The State in Catholic Thought"

After year's of hoarding the Notre Dame Law School library's, I recently bought my own copy of Henrich Rommen's classic The State in Catholic Thought:  A Treatise on Political Philosophy.  The 2016 edition I purchased (published by Cluny Media) comes with an excellent introduction by Prof. Bruce Frohnen, whose work is probably familiar to MOJ readers.  With his permission, I'm posting a little excerpt from that introduction:

Rommen’s task in The State in Catholic Thought is to explain the role the state plays in facilitating ordered pursuit of common goods. The modern nation state in particular too often asserts control over other associations, portraying itself as a single, national "good."  This is the path followed by the tyrannies of the twentieth century against which Rommen struggled.  Those tyrannies included the totalitarian regimes of Hitler, Stalin, and their ilk.  They also included the seemingly more humane regimes of the social democrats, with their utilitarian ethics and hostility toward the higher, more permanent good of the human person. . . . 

In opposition to [social democrats’] false vision of a neutral state, Rommen offers the just social order.  Too often confused with statism and even pursued as a kind of social democracy with confessional window-dressing, the state envisioned by Rommen is, in accordance with Catholic teaching, an accommodating structure serving man’s natural ends.  The state, on this view, works to bring together society’s various communities to reason together and seek common understanding and pursue common ends. It promotes rules ordering their relations with justice, respect for self-government, and attention to the common good.

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